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John Key sick before spying talks

Wednesday 25 Sep 2013 6:07p.m.

John Key sick before spying talks

Prime Minister John Key has arrived at the United Nations to find that thorn in his side, spying, high on the agenda.

But it wasn't that which left him feeling ill. It started off just fine for Mr Key, with a brisk walk along 42nd St to the United Nations.

But in a New York minute, everything changed. The Prime Minister veered off course down the footpath, pulling up against a garden box. He then took refuge in a bar called McFadden's Saloon, with his entourage and US Secret Service bodyguards in tow.

"I'm feeling great," says Mr Key. "It was short and sharp. Something I ate. But I had a desperate sensation to throw up."

But it is not ideal when you're heading off to lunch with world leaders, including US President Barack Obama.

"There was a range of people. I kept my immediate distance," says Mr Key.

And the assembly opened with one of Mr Key's least favourite topics these days – spying.

President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff made an out-and-out attack on America's mass cyber-prying.

"We were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately," says Ms Rousseff.

She called for a global agreement on how to deal with it.

"Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and an affront to the principles that must guide the relations among them."

New Zealand is part of the American-led Five Eyes spy network.

Mr Key met Ms Rousseff earlier this year and asked for Brazil's vote to get New Zealand on the Security Council.

Our sales pitch includes: we're not in America's pocket. The question is whether the spy link tarnishes this. Mr Key doesn't think so.

"There's very good reasons why from time to time we either gather information or we share information, and it's largely for the most part activities that could put at risk our citizens," he says.

"We have begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so as to properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share," says Mr Obama.

But Brazil and others might also note where we stand on Syria. The US wants a Security Council resolution enforcing the deal that sees Syria getting rid of chemical weapons.

"There must be consequences if they fail to do so," says Mr Obama.

And Mr Key doesn't like the way Russia can use its veto to stop this.

"I think the evidence is very clear that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against his own people and we don't think the veto should be used to stop the UN Security Council taking firm action," he says.

There's plenty for Mr Key to talk about as he does the rounds of leaders.

3 News

 
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